Taoist Cultivation 101 – Practice vs Cultivation

Here we will lay out a define and clear meaning between the word that we use all the time, 練 practice and 煉 cultivate. For all of you who are learning in the lineage here, it is very important that you know the difference between both, and use the right way to do them. School never teaches you this in precise manner, and many people still don’t even know the difference between the two at the age of 70s.

Practice is written as 練 in our book, which is to repetitively do something. For example, you practice writing your name, then you repeat writing it many times.  The key to practice is to NOT use your brain, and use the heart instead. To use the heart, you DO NOT THINK. Just do it, do more, and it will be good.  However, before you do more, make sure you are repeating the RIGHT thing first. Imagine doing a practice of writing your own name but you spelled it wrongly at the beginning, then you will be practicing the wrong name and that is like painting with the wrong color from the beginning, it will just become a mess later and very hard to “undo”. You should go by the 3 steps of practice, which is to learn what to practice, verifying and confirming what you can reproduce is right, then practice many times correctly. Get corrections and revisions from your uppers from time to time to make sure you have not got too wrong.

Cultivation is like training, but not exactly what training means. Cultivation is written as 煉, and it means to do something for the goal of improvement, crystallization, like cooking up a pot of essence from a bunch of ingredients. It involves a lot of hard work with the brain, applying what is learned in the past to gain experience and wisdom. Cultivation is the opposite of practice, it involves a lot of thinking, processing, and you are always trying to seek for ways to improve and get better at the things you are doing. It’s like fine tuning and upgrading something, you need to look around in details to spot the flaws and little bubbles to smoothen out everything. It’s like trying to tweak a computer or a car, you can’t go by “feeling” and brainlessly do it like a machine. It requires you to put 500% of your brainpower to do it for the final fruit to be there.

Everyone should have a lot of experience in life to relate to the two above. For example, you are practicing your writing to improve on speed, then you keep writing things to get natural with it, then you get faster over time. You cultivate your writing skills by learning new vocabularies, grammar, and even going to some courses to see how to write with better methods, then you apply them to write more new things, keep polishing it, revising it, and getting some professional help to make it better and better to cook up your final piece while learning and upgrading yourself on the way.

Taoist Cultivation Related Examples

When you learn a new spell or symbol, you practice it by repeating it a lot of times, building up more reps. However, many disciples just blindly do this and don’t even confirm if they are doing it right at the first place. When I go check up on them, most of them got the spell wrongly done, and repeated that so many times that it already build up a lot of bad habits with their mouth. It’s sad to see, but then you need to spend MORE time washing it out later by doing the right practice 3x more to overwrite the bad ones you have done before. 

Sometimes, people practice the right one a lot, then they stop showing up to ask question and just practice on their own for months. One day, they pop up in class and was told to recite that spell again, it’s all wrong!  Oh, because one day they were practicing and the words just went wrong and they didn’t notice it, and kept practicing it wrongly on their own. End up, same thing happened. You see, practice is good, but you need someone to check up on your practice from time to time too, no one can practice on their own without guidance and help from the teacher side, it’s too dangerous!

Some disciples practice a lot, like they might be doing the spells and such many times on their own. EVEN if they are doing it right, soon they will realize – why I am not getting any better at things, why is my life not improving, why I still have those bad luck, why this and that.  That’s right, they never cultivate!  You did practice, but you didn’t use your brain and action to apply them to the actual situation. It’s like you kept practicing how to swing a golf club by whacking air, but you never played the game once, how can you even get any benefit from the game?  It’s like a martial artist who only punch in the air all the time, they will never know what a fight is like, because they never actually put them into real application.  Or it’s like you kept practicing how to hold a pan, chop vegetables, but you never really cooked!  How can you have food to eat? 

A Taoist need to practice, but also to cultivate, by putting their Tao power into real situation, using it and seeing how it can help them solve problems. If you fail during the execution, seek for help from me, and learn from the failures just like how kids learn to swim and gets drowned, they learn from those failures and get better each time. Failure is a part of learning; it teaches you things!  No one say you must 100% sure-win because you are a Taoist, you will lose too, and you will lose many times to learn your lesson!  Many people are afraid of failures, and they want to avoid it.

Remember to use your heart when practicing, do not think!  Just do it and brainlessly repeat it. Use the soul when cultivating, think more and don’t go by feelings, so that you can use the soul power to cook up the fruit.

Not practice enough, you will feel like a turtle typing on a keyboard, that is why you cannot get fast and speedy at things you do.

Not cultivate enough, your skills is not polished even you can do swiftly, it’s like a kid trying to write you a lots of ugly words and think he is a doctor scribbling on the report.

In our lineage, we play a famous game called Clash of Clans. If you ever play this game, you should know what I am talking about here.  You cultivate by learning a new attack skill, polishing your base design, and doing things that involve thinking and brain power. Remember to NOT GO BY FEELINGS, you need to really seek for improvements methods here.  Then you practice it daily by doing the same attack many times, many days, and you will eventually master it. It’s like you can be not even thinking a thing and the hands can move on its own to deploy the troops already. You don’t think when you attack, you just look, see, and click automatically. If you think for a second, your attack will fail, because you used the brain to do it, then you are slowed down. Practice makes perfect? No, it doesn’t. Cultivation makes perfect, practice gets you faster and naturalized with what you are doing.

The goal of practicing is to make the channelling between your preheaven body to the physical body better, so the preheaven side can flow to the postheaven side with better speed, with less obstacles, being more responsive etc. It’s like trying to walk the same route over and over again, then you don’t need to “think” to walk anymore.

The goal of cultivation is to build up more essence and resources in your preheaven bank, the heart, so that it has more and better resources to use later. The whole process of cultivation is for the fruit at the end, and to improve the quality of the fruit at the end. The more you cultivate, the better the quality gets.

Enough said, its time for you to get going and start your Tao journey here, ordain today to get started!